As recently as three weeks ago Grady Sizemore seemed optimistic about returning from the disabled list in early June, but as has so often been the case with the former star setbacks have squashed those plans.
In updating Sizemore’s status yesterday manager Manny Acta admitted that the center fielder is nowhere close to returning from knee and back surgeries because he hasn’t been cleared to run the bases yet and there isn’t even a timetable for him to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
Sizemore expressed his understandable frustration to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
I’m beyond being anxious or frustrated. I can’t even explain it. It’s almost feels like a part of you is missing. I’ve learned that rushing and trying to get back as soon as possible didn’t work. I tried that last year and I just ended up putting myself in a worse position. That’s why we’re taking it slow now. That’s why it’s important to not just feel good, but to feel really good, to feel great.
Michael Brantley has played well shifting to center field in Sizemore’s absence, but the Indians investing $5 million to re-sign the oft-injured 29-year-old is looking more and more like a sunk cost.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.